Saturday, June 24, 2017

Would a Diet Coke, By Any Other Name, Still Taste as Fake Sweet?

Last night I came upstairs to make Hick's supper before he left for the auction. He was sitting in his La-Z-Boy drinking a 20 oz bottle of Diet Coke.

This is uncommon, because Hick is a Diet Mountain Dew drinker. And occasionally a Diet A&W Root Beer drinker. NOT a Diet Coke regular, though he orders it when we go out, if the restaurant doesn't have his favorite.

I had glimpsed this 20 oz Diet Coke in FRIG II earlier in the afternoon. Hick had been called in to work on one of his RETIRED days, had only stayed until 1:00, and then went running around after stopping by the homestead before a doctor's appointment. Silly me. For a nanosecond, I imagined that Hick must have gotten that bottle of Diet Coke for ME! Poor, misguided Hick had forgotten that I get a 44 oz fountain Diet Coke every day, AND that I have a six-pack of 20 oz bottles in the basement mini fridge to freshen it throughout the week in the evenings. But it's the thought that counts, right?

Yes, it IS. And Hick was most certainly NOT thinking about ME! There he reclined, swilling that Diet Coke!

"Oh. Are you having a Diet Coke today?"

"Yeah. They had a deal on them. Two for $2.50."

That didn't sound like any kind of deal to me, but then, I pay $1.69 for a fountain 44, so I'm not really one to judge. I went on about the business of making supper while Hick relaxed with a before-supper snack. I guess his lunch was thrown off by the sudden partial cancellation of his 2/5 retirement Friday. I made several passes through the living room while waiting for food to cook. On the last one, Hick held up his now empty except for snack wrapper Diet Coke bottle.

"Huh. Did you see what it says on the bottle?"

"No. What?"

Hick turned it around, and I beheld my name. (Let the record show that I've never made a pretense of Val being an assumed name, and that last year I put my real name in the sidebar somewhere.)

"Oh! Did you pick it out?"

"No. I didn't even know that was on it. I just picked it up. Then just now when I was putting my cookie wrapper in there, I saw it."

"Are you going to save it?"

"I hadn't planned on it, no."

"Don't throw it away! I want to get a picture."

Okay. Let's think about this. Hick normally does not buy Diet Coke, or drink it at home. He happened upon a sale at a convenience store, and took two. He drank one somewhere between work and our house, threw away the bottle, and brought the other one home. After drinking it, he saw that it had my name on it.

Let the record further show that Hick collects all manner of Coca Cola memorabilia. A large part of his collection includes bottles with the soda still inside. Christmas edition six-pack cartons, foreign language versions, sports team logos...all manner of collected bottles. But this ONE that had his loving wife's name on it, he chugs and is ready to discard.

You know that if I'd been out combing the convenience stores for a bottle with my name, I couldn't have found one, right? In fact, I've never seen one with The Pony's name on it, even though it's the most common of Thevictorian names, being shared with the likes of princes and conquerors and bow-and-arrow marksmen who have overtures written about them. Nor have I seen one with the name of Genius on it, though his is shared by a famous outlaw, a civil rights leader, and a professional wrestler turned state governor. And I've certainly not seen a Coke bottle with Hick's name, who would have been right at home as the third brother of Larry, the odd-job man on the newer Bob Newhart Show where he was an innkeeper.

I can't help but wonder what name was on the bottle of Diet Coke that Hick threw away.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #64 "Opal's Oasis: Offbeat Oddities"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. It's time to poop or get off the pot! Val is dropping her fake books all willy-nilly across the landscape, and you need to scoop them up before any more logs are wasted. Val has turned her efforts from making chicken salad into making fake books. She hopes to come out of this venture smelling like a rose. So cut the crap and dig into your honeypot of savings, and fake-buy Val's latest fake book today!

[In case you are wondering why Val's count of fake books went from #64 to #64...there was a week when Sioux did not fake-publish a fake book, so overachieving Val has adjusted her volume number downward.]

Opal's Oasis: Offbeat Oddities

Opal has a knack for creating knickknacks. In the oodles of spare time she has while running her campground, she creates keepsakes to sell in her store.

Opal's newest creation is The Pet Poop. No crazier that a Pet Rock, Opal figures. Besides, she has plenty of extra raw material, provided by campers who don't read her signs. Who don't scoop their (dogs') poop. Opal has a special drying bed where her poop matures. She will sell no poop before its time. She polishes it until it's smooth, with a muted shine. Then wraps each piece in a Ziploc bag and labels it $5.00.

Will Opal get rich selling Pet Poops? Or will she be just as happy to set her wares on a table out front, and watch people pick up their dog poop like they should have in the first place? (143 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Pet Rock..."Hello? Copyright infringement, anyone? As soon as I get a lawyer, both Opal and Thevictorian will be slapped with a lawsuit. And Thevictorian will be slapped some more. Just because."

Mood Ring..."The release of this fake book has put me in a dark humor. The writing is tepid at best, and I grow cold at the thought of this fake work, OR those Pet Poops, sitting on a shelf somewhere as if they belong. I have more talent in my little me rephrase that...I have more talent in the little finger I'm worn upon than this fake author has in her whole (considerably large) body."

Beanie Babies..."You'd better buy one of each of them, because one of these days, they're going to be valuable! Even that Thevictorian woman's fake book. Seal them up in a plastic tub, and in twenty or thirty years, you'll have a fortune on your hands. Not just poop."

Cabbage Patch Kid..."These Pet Poops are too ugly for words. Nobody will want those. They all look alike. I doubt they even come with a pedigree, and folks probably have to give them a name. This Thevictorian woman needs the stuffing beat out of her for pushing this agenda."

That little dog in the arms of Eva Gabor in the opening credits of Green Acres..."I get allergic smelling hay, but my excrement doesn't have an odor. I would like to contribute to this new fad. Is there a post office box where my droppings might be sent? It may take a few days. The mail doesn't go out in a timely manner down at Sam Drucker's store. If the fake author would like to fake-interview me, she can ring that phone at the top of the pole outside our bedroom closet door."

Lassie..."What's that, you say? Timmy fell down a well? IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THEVICTORIAN! A polite woman would never have fake-written a book about a woman who thinks it is okay to handle dog feces."

Candy-Pooping Doggie Deer like pulled the Grinch's sleigh..."Ooh! That's not gonna turn out well. I doubt those Pet Poops are even edible! The thought of this venture makes me cringe with embarrassment for the inventor and the fake author. Whoopsie! I think a little poop came out."

Spuds Mackenzie..."Hey, Bud! I need a drink! Fake-reading this fake book was a bitch! Val Thevictorian is no party animal! She's a...wait for POOPER!"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sometimes, a Secret is Just What the Doctor Ordered

Let the record show that Val is medicated. Not heavily medicated. Not the good stuff. Just her regular prescriptions that she takes each morning. One pill upon arising, for her missing thyroid, and two for blood pressure that she takes at least an hour later. Sometimes more than an hour later, but the deal with the thyroid med is to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour before ingesting anything else.

Most days, I put off the blood pressure med until I'm heading home from town. If you've ever taken such a pharmaceutical, you understand. It works to lower your blood pressure by getting rid of some of your blood volume. That's what I think, anyway. Because you have to pee out that extra fluid when the med decides it has to go. So I wait until I know that I'll be home in 10-15 minutes, where peeing facilities are available.

This timing is no big deal. I sleep late because I stay up late, and my body is used to the schedule, just as it was when I was working and took the thyroid pill at 4:50 a.m. and the others at 6:00. I have a little square container that I put my pills in. I slip that container in my shirt pocket, and once in T-Hoe, I put it in my change cup that sits on the console. Once I get my 44 oz Diet Coke, I take the two pills and start home.

Last Thursday, I had some extra running around to do. It was almost 1:00 when I left town to head home. I had a slight headache, which I attributed to being out in normal air, and not the rarefied atmosphere of my dark basement lair. There's all kinds of allergens in the air these days, and my nose drips like a faucet during my evening walk. As I was on the road home, it dawned on me that maybe my head hurt because I hadn't taken my blood pressure medicine yet! I had forgotten. So I reached into the change cup, but didn't feel my little square container.

Huh. That was odd. I KNOW I put it in the car. I felt my pocket. Not there. WAIT! The last I remembered seeing it, I had set that little square container on the console itself as I left Country Mart, in order to count out correct change for my next stop, the gas station chicken store, for my 44 oz Diet Coke. AND, as I had driven off from Country Mart, I heard something fall. I didn't dwell on it at the time. I though it might have been the coin cup sliding back off my phone onto the console, or that pair of nail clippers that The Pony kept in there for trimming his toenails as I drove. Forgetting that I had destroyed the clippers (accidentally!!!) the week before.

Anyhoo...I spent that drive home thinking about finding those pills so I could take them. The plan was to look in the back seat area when I stopped to pick up the mail. I reached my arm back and felt all around, but there was no little square container within reach. Things like that bother me. I wanted the issue resolved.

When I got to the mailboxes, I pulled over on the gravel road, beside the creek. No need to be parked in the county road while conducting my search. I climbed out of T-Hoe and looked on the floor, under the seats, under some junk in between the back seats. Looked in from EVERY DOOR. Under every seat. Under the floor mats. All over that car! I couldn't find my little square container.

For 15 minutes I searched. I was determined to find that little square container. Sweat was rolling off me in rivulets. In front of my ears from my scalp. Between my shoulder blades. I had a river of underboob and 'tween-boob sweat flowing under my shirt. Nowhere. That little square container was nowhere to be found. But I DID find a Slim Jim wrapper (empty), a wooden token for a free sundae at Dairy Queen, and two pennies and a dime (this was the day after I found my last penny on the Save A Lot parking lot).

For a third time (it's a charm, you know!) I checked the driver's seat between the console and the seat belt hook bolted to the floor. I FELT IT! I felt the little square container! It was in that little recess by the hook. There was some sort of plastic cover over the hook, and the little square container was wedged in there. I sat in the driver's seat and contorted my arm and wrist and fingers, but that little square container only jammed in deeper. I couldn't pry it out of that little hole.

I got out and stood beside the car and leaned over the seat, trying to wedge my arm down in there for better leverage. I have fairly small wrists if you consider a man's arm trying to fit in there. Smaller than a small man's wrists, unless by small man you think of Tom Thumb, who of course being retired all these years from the P.T. Barnum Circus, and taking a break from the grave, would probably not have desired to go poking around the floorboards of T-Hoe just to find two pills for Val.

I moved to the back seat door, where I could reach in sideways and not downways. Something kind of cracked, but I'm not going to tell Hick, because when is he ever going to notice, really, if I broke something in that area? FINALLY I fished out that little square container. I climbed back in T-Hoe, opened it up, and took my two pills.

If Hick borrows T-Hoe, and has to slam on the brakes, and goes sailing through the windshield when his seatbelt gives way...nobody's going to say anything, right?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Val Thevictorian is a Wet-Meat Dad

On Father's Day, Hick had the idea to go to the casino. I don't know what got into him, because the casino is my thing, not his. It would be like me proposing a Goodwill tour on Mother's Day. Anyhoo...he may have been heady with success from his last trip, when he cashed out more money than I gave him to start with. Who am I to complain about a trip to the casino?

As part of our routine, we eat at Burger Brothers. It's inside the casino, and the burgers (what else would we eat, anyway? It's not like we're my favorite Gambling Aunt, who ordered an Italian sausage there) are always delicious. Until this time.

Hick went to order. Even though I always get the exact same thing, he has to ask me what I want. A hamburger with pickles and onions only. And fries that I share with Hick. So I told him. And Hick said, "No cheese?" No. I NEVER get cheese. I repeated that I wanted pickles and onions only. He went to order. Then he went to get a free soda. Why buy the pop when you can have the fountain for free? Then he came back to sit and annoy me until our burgers were ready. It always annoys him when the people behind him in line get their food before him. I agree. That's why I try not to see where Hick is in line.

The little disc thingy buzzed to signal that our order was ready to be picked up. Hick returned to the table and set the tray in front of me. I don't know why I had to serve it up! Sheesh! A woman's work is never done! I set Hick's onion rings in front of him. Then started to hand him his burger. Wait a minute! I couldn't tell which burger was Hick's! It should have been easy. He always gets pepperjack cheese. I could clearly see the white melted cheese dripping along the side of Hick's burger. But wait! It was on both burgers!

Closer inspection showed that Hick's burger did indeed have pepperjack cheese on it. I handed it over. And then began to investigate my own burger. Which clearly had more than pickles and onions only. It wasn't cheese. It was some kind of sauce. White sauce. I didn't want any sauce! I took the top bun off, planning to wipe off the sauce. Hick offered to take it back and complain.

"See? I told them! It's right here on the receipt! 'Pickles and onions ONLY!' She even repeated it to me! I'll take it back."

"No. What are they going to do? Wipe it off? I'm not waiting another 20 minutes for a new one! That's gambling time wasted! I'll try to wipe it off. I can't believe people can't follow simple directions!" Actually, I CAN believe it, but what's the point of venting by hollering the obvious?

It's virtually impossible to wipe white sauce off of thinly-sliced rings of red onion. I blotted off all I could, and then took a bite. You know, I like mayonnaise. And most sauces with a mayonnaise base. I'll even eat Miracle Whip in a pinch. But whatever those Burger Brothers put in that sauce, I did NOT enjoy. It was bitter! How in the Not-Heaven can you make a bitter sauce and slather it on a hamburger? I tried to kill the taste with ketchup. Then mustard. It was not very successful. Of course, I still ate the burger. Are you kidding me? They make really good burgers! Just not good sauce.

We've always had good food there before. You'd think they could at least get the order right. It was FATHER'S DAY, by cracky! For all those Burger Brothers knew, I was a dad who was getting a special treat on my day! And they could not follow simple instructions! They served me, a possible dad, a soggy burger on FATHER'S DAY!

Even if I'd let Hick take it back...would YOU want to eat a meal prepared by the person you complained messed it up the first time? I would have been even more leery of what kind of special sauce might have accidentally been added to the replacement.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Val, the Great Surmiser

Remember a couple weeks ago, when I was finding PENNIES everywhere? For several days. And on one single day, I found FOUR pennies?

Silly me. I had started to think I was going to find pennies every day. Everywhere. But they dried up! No pennies, no dimes, no quarters, no dollars! So I surmised that whatever message the Universe was trying to get across had been delivered. Resigned myself to the fact that I might go a few years again without finding a single penny. It's happened before.

And then...and then...something new was presented to me without my knowledge. I was clueless! Can you believe THAT? Val had no idea what was going on. She went about her merry way, car-singing and scratcher-buying and 44 oz Diet Coke drinking. Kept Hick on a tight rein, but saw that he had his weekly allowance and casino money (which he may or may not have pocketed a portion of) and treats from Walmart twice a week.

Monday, this new trend virtually slapped me in the face. I was in Walmart at the time, the one in Bill-Paying Town. Not the regular one closest to Backroads, where I went on Friday. Some treats are hard to find. I was checking out, getting some cash back. I do this occasionally, when we have some extra expenses not planned on in our weekly cash budget, and I don't want make an extra stop at the bank. We had lunch at the casino twice (you don't think I'm paying for LUNCH out of my previous winnings, do you) and the fee for the Process Server that Hick hadn't been reimbursed for yet (that he paid out of his allowance).

So there I was, getting $40 cash back. The checker handed me eight $5 bills.

"Oh! I'm sorry to take all of your fives!"

"That's okay. The lady ahead of you got the last of my twenties."

See, I thought to apologize for draining her drawer resources. Because it's the polite thing to do. After all...the checker in the other Walmart on Friday fell all over herself apologizing to me when she counted me out eight $5 bills for my $40 cash back there.

"I'm so sorry to do this to you! It's all I have here. I thought she was bringing me more, but this is it for now."

"Oh, that's fine! It spends just the same."

See, I hadn't thought much about getting all those fives back. But when it happened on Monday at the other Walmart, it was like the clouds opened up and a magical ray of sunlight (crepuscular rays, I'm sure one of my blog buddies told us about that, perhaps Joe H) shone through, and a choir sang a wordless chord.


Uh huh. Not just those two times at the Walmarts. When I cashed in winning scratchers over that weekend time period. At Orb K, I was due back ten dollars, and the clerk gave me two $5 bills. At Waterside Mart, I needed back twenty dollars, and the clerk handed me four $5 bills. AND at the gas station chicken store, I was due fifteen dollars, and the little gal gave me three $5 bills. Plus, Hick and I went back to the casino on Father's Day, and when I cashed out my last ticket, the machine gave me four $5 bills instead of one twenty. It never does that!

So there I was, wheeling my cart/walker out of Walmart, putting 5 and 5 and 5 and 5 (well, you get it) together, and realizing


Yeah. My mom used to always give me a $5 bill when we took her some leftovers or the tabloids after I read them. Always said, "Now you take this."

It's most likely a coincidence that those stores ran out of tens and twenties when I showed up. But I surmise that I was meant to get those fives. Except maybe I wasn't supposed to be so dense, and have the need to get SO MANY fives before I saw a connection.

Yeah. Crazy ol' Val. You can't always get what you want. But if you try get what you need.

Back when I was the five-dollar daughter (plus one). And when my value declined. Dropped more. Really, really declined.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hick, the Great Provoker

When we left off in the Property Owners vs. Crazy Dude saga...the court papers had been dropped onto Crazy Dude's land, right in front of his nose, when the Process Server held them out and Crazy Dude refused to take them. Crazy Dude retreated back down his wooded driveway to his out-of-sight house.

Hick said he hoped there came a big rain from those purple storm clouds, so the papers would be destroyed, and Crazy Dude wouldn't have the court date, and the restraining order would become permanent since he refused to show up to the hearing. Hick also said other things.

"If I was Bev, I'd go out and trim my bushes along his property line." (No comment on Hick thinking about trimmed bushes!)

"No! Why would she? I understand if she wants to clean up her property, and it's all overgrown, that she shouldn't let a fear of Crazy Dude keep her from doing whatever landscaping she wants. But to concentrate on that section right next to him is just asking for trouble. It's provoking!"

Uh huh. That would be like a 9-year-old going to sit on the property line of her yard and her next-door-neighbor best friend's yard, to play with pick-up sticks, and make her best friend's beagle puppy on a chain go crazy, and get yelled at from the back door. Not that Li'l Val would know anything about such a tactic.

The night of the envelope-dropping, there DID come some rain, in the wee hours of the morning. Hick said that when he went by Crazy Dude's driveway the next morning, the envelope was gone.

Let the record show that Val has no idea why Hick was anywhere near Crazy Dude's driveway. That road is the road he takes to work on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday. Not the road we take to town. And as far as Val (or the record) knows...Hick does NOT go to work on Saturdays, or have a need to drive by that area.

Hick figures that Crazy Dude came out in the middle of the night, when he thought he wouldn't be seen, and picked up the envelope. When Hick said this, I imagined Crazy Dude in camouflage gear, crawling on his belly like a serpent, knife clutched in his teeth in case he needed to intimidate a witness.

The hearing is in the middle of July. Hick figures that Crazy Dude will be at the hearing, to say that he never was served the papers, so the restraining order is not valid. However... Hick also figures that such a tactic will only prove that Crazy Dude WAS served the papers, because how else would he know when to show up at the hearing. So the point would be moot, he was served! Present a valid reason as to why he should not be banned from contacting Bev, or stay away from her.

Meanwhile, I have been nervous when I hear a four-wheeler coming up the road during my walks. Just in case it's Crazy Dude, scoping out our house for future revenge. I'd rather he not know what I look like, since I don't know him, either. I told Hick, and he said, "That's not him. Listen. He has a 4-stroke engine. That's a 2-stroke. It whines." AS IF that means anything to me. Hick might as well be reading a manual on how to fly a 747 to Puppy Jack. Except that Hick doesn't read manuals. Anyhoo...he eventually got me to understand that a 4-stroke engine has a loud roar, and a 2-stroke engine sounds like a motorcycle ree-ree-ree engine. Not that I have time to run back to the house if the wrong one is coming up the road, anyway.

I heard gunshots back over the creek when I was walking Saturday evening. I figure it was either Bev, whose husband just got a gun, or Crazy Dude, who probably has an arsenal...having target practice. I'm glad there's a forest between us.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Man, a Plan, a Contact Ban

When we last convened, Hick was eagerly awaiting the Process Server so he could trick Crazy Dude, the unbalanced neighbor, into accepting a court order preventing him from contact with our other neighbor, Bev. Yeah. Maybe he shouldn't get involved. But Hick's a people person. And it takes a village to put the kibosh on swastika-touting nut-jobs.

Friday, Hick was expecting the Process Server at noon. Hick would drive the tractor, Process Server would follow in the Gator, they'd blade the gravel on the road that runs past Crazy Dude's house, and he'd be drawn outside, and served with the order. In theory.

I came back from town just after noon, and saw a car parked in the BARn field, and figured Process Server was there, and all systems were go. I carried my groceries in through the kitchen door, and didn't look out front for the tractor. At 1:30, I called Hick to see if everything was okay.

"HOS and I are waiting out here for the Process Server. He hasn't called. I'm about to get fed up with him. It looks like rain, now. I'm not riding the tractor up there in a storm."

Turns out Process Server was running late. He didn't get here until after 4:00. But they carried out the mission anyway, under darkening skies.

Hick drove the tractor past the entrance to Crazy Dude's driveway. He went on up the road, blading, planning to turn around and come back like normal. He's been meaning to blade the road for a couple weeks, but didn't want to deal with Crazy Dude, who always comes out and demands to know what he's doing.

[This road has been there for many years, before any of us bought property out here. It's not like we're driving across his yard. It's a two-mile piece of road that connects two blacktop county roads. Like a creek or waterway, nobody owns the road, even though they may own land on either side of it. We all use it, and many common county residents who don't live here use it as a shortcut. Not that we want them to. We, the property-owners, maintain it.]

HOS rode the 4-wheeler, and Process Server drove the Gator. He got out and started shoving gravel around with the rake. HOS said that Crazy Dude must have come out as soon as Hick went by on the tractor. Crazy Dude was standing at his fence, leaning his elbows on the top, watching.

[Let the record show that Process Server, in the following exchange, used his real name, and Crazy Dude's real name.]

"How are you doing today, Crazy."

"I'm doing okay."

"My name is Process Server." He held out his hand to shake. Crazy Dude shook. Process Server took out the envelope. "Are you Crazy Dude?"

"No. That's not my name. I'm not Crazy Dude." With that, Crazy Dude backed off the fence.

Process Server held out the envelope with the court order. Crazy Dude did not reach out. Process Server dropped them in front of him. Crazy Dude turned and walked back through the woods to his house.

"Crazy Dude, you have been served," said Process Server. He turned to HOS. "You might have to appear in court as a witness if there's an issue." HOS said that was no problem.

HOS and Process Server took off up the road to warn Hick. "Take the tractor back home," said HOS. "He went up to his house. We don't know what he's gonna do. He might be getting a gun. He stared at me the whole time, once Process Server said his name. He didn't take the papers. They're laying by his fence."

Process Server left to fill out his paperwork. That's why Hick wanted to use somebody who does this for a living. The judge had said anybody could serve the papers, but the serving paperwork had to be done correctly, or the order wouldn't be any good.

Hick and HOS came to the house. To my dark basement lair, to be exact, to tell me the story. Oh, and because Hick was going into his basement workshop on the other side of my office wall, to get into the gun safe for a shotgun for HOS. Actually, for HOS's wife. Not that we're gun-toting inbreds or anything. But Crazy Dude was looking in HOS's windows when they first moved in. And HOS doesn't want any trouble from him now that he's madder than usual, and HOS works nights, and his wife and 7-year-old son are there alone.

Of course, once that chore was done, Hick left for the auction. "I'll lock the doors for you."

"You call me if you hear anything," said HOS. "I'll be down here in a jiffy."

You can't be too careful when you live in the middle of nowhere.

That court order was to inform Crazy Dude that he has to stay away from Bev until the next hearing date in July. It's a temporary restraining order, with the hearing date for Crazy Dude to present his side before it becomes permanent. If he initiates contact with Bev, he'll get locked up.

Of course, a restraining order is just a piece of paper. You can be deader than a doornail before the police can get here to enforce it. I suppose it can discourage most people from making contact, and make most people feel safer to have one in effect.

Can't we all just get along? I don't mean roast marshmallows over a bonfire and sing Kumbaya. You're never going to get along with everyone you encounter in life. But you don't have to put sticks in the road to make one lane impassable, either. Or hang a swastika on the edge of your property facing your neighbor's house, after telling her you believe in "Hitler's final resolution."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

This Is Just a Little Peyton Place and We're All Watching Hick Go Move Some Sticks

Do you want to see something sad?

Sure you do! That's not a rhetorical question. You really don't have a choice, though. I'm going to show you something sad.


"What's so sad about THAT?" you might say. "Aside from the bald patches of yard from when you had 36 chickens before the neighbor dogs ate them, and that gravel road right through your yard to the BARn field, and that row of shacks--erm--SHACKYTOWN within sight of the house..."

Let me focus in on that area.

See it now? The tractor? With the Gator parked behind it? All ready for--wait! I'm getting ahead of myself.

Hick had a plan. A plan to help the neighbor behind us, Bev, get her court papers for her restraining order served on Crazy Dude, the neighbor who put up a swastika facing her house. Hick has friends in assorted social strata, and had one who's a process server. Even though Hick hasn't seen or heard from him in 30 years, he still says, "I know a guy..."

Somehow, Hick got the Process Server's phone number. He set up a scenario to get Crazy Dude out in the open, suitable for serving. Hick would drive his tractor up on that gravel road, the one he travels two miles on to get to a bigger road for work. The gravel road that Crazy Dude thinks he owns to the center line, and piles sticks and limbs in the lane next to his property. Hick and other tractored neighbors blade the road a couple times a year, smoothing out the rock, sometimes getting loads of gravel to fill the potholes. Crazy Dude comes out and rants at them about being on his "property" and sometimes the police have to be called. They've told Crazy Dude next time he puts sticks in the road, they're locking him up, they don't have time for his shenanigans.

Anyhoo...Hick knows if Crazy Dude hears the tractor, he'll come out. His plan was for the Process Server to ride up there on the Gator, with a rake, and follow along after the tractor, smoothing gravel. Then when Crazy Dude came out, VOILA! Papers served! It was really a genius sort of plan. Props to Hick for putting on his gently-used thinking cap.

The event was set to kick off Wednesday evening at 5:00. Hick didn't reveal his plan to anybody besides me, the Process Server, and HOS (Hick's Oldest Son, who lives across from Crazy Dude). All Hick told Bev was that he had found a server, and the cost was $40, and he'd let her know when it was done.

Hick went outside at 4:45 Wednesday evening. He was as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. I was down in my dark basement lair, a bit apprehensive. That's because Hick said things like, "I don't think I'll take a gun. I'm sure those process servers carry." Yeah. I don't want Hick hovering around me every spare moment of my retirement, but I don't want to be without him, either! I assured him that it was a good idea NOT to take a gun. Even though during their last encounter, Crazy Dude rested his hand on a large knife strapped to his belt during their entire conversation.

Now here's the sad part about that picture. The tractor and Gator didn't move for three days.

I called Hick at 6:00. To see if everything was okay. I didn't want him to be in the middle of skulking around, and his phone go off. But the suspense was killing me. It only takes five minutes or less to drive the tractor up that road.

"I'm sitting on my tractor, waiting. I had to get off a couple times to pee. That guy isn't here yet. I tried to call him, but he doesn't answer."

Turns out that Process Server also does surveillance. He was tied up (not literally) in a town about an hour away. So plans got changed to Friday at noon. "That will work. HOS is off on Fridays. He'll be there if anything goes wrong."

What could possibly go wrong?

Conclusion tomorrow...

Friday, June 16, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #64 "Full of Hot Air: A Tale of Three Testees"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Don't burst Val's bubble! She works hard to produce these fake books. What a barren literary landscape we would have, if not for her timely tomes. Get your hands on her latest effort today, before Val is sacked from the fake-book industry.

Full of Hot Air: A Tale of Three Testees

The B. Loon Testee family works as quality control technicians, testing balloons. As a perk, they each get 500 free balloons every payday.

B. moonlights as a free-lance balloon-animal act for kids' parties. His wife markets the top half of her balloons on the internet as Flavor Savers, covers for Tupperware bowls that have lost their lids. The bottom half she donates to the local homeless shelter, where proprietor Rebecca DeMornay has them redirected to Top O' the Muffin to You, a bakery about to slip into bankruptcy, due to the cost of hauling away muffin stumps and balloon bottoms.

Even the littlest Testee has a use for her free balloons. Inflated and tossed into the basement, they make one great big ball pit for her to play in, when she's not working a 40-hour week. Join the Testees in their journey to make life more uplifting for others. (149 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

The 80s..."Hello? Hello? Sorry I didn't reach you, Mr. Testee. Um...this is the Eighties...and we'd like our hair back. Thanks! Ahem. Now, for that Thevictorian woman. This fake book is totally bitchin'! PSYCH! Like, get real. Your writing style is grody. To the max! You're a bogus fake author, fer sure."

Davey Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier..."I haven't seen hair like that since I wore my coonskin cap while I helped Ben Franklin fly his kite during an electrical storm. As for Thevictorian...she reminds me of a frontier woodsman. Her words are wooden, and she chops at them like an amateur with her first ax."

Aquanet..."While I can assist this family with their tresses, there is no help for Thevictorian, whose words are limper than the hair of Jerry Seinfeld after a low-flow shower-head shampoo."

The Ozone..."Like this follicularly fantastic family has put a hole in me, Thevictorian's fake writing leaves an aching emptiness in the hearts of all who fake-read it."

Gee Your Hair Looks Terrific..."As you might imagine, this family did not use me. I'm not one for self-promotion, so I'll advise all the unfortunate fake readers of this Thevictorian woman to use No More Tears, in hopes that it may bring them comfort."

Jack, recuperating in his hospital bed, sister Jill at his side..."If I'd had THIS kind of hair, I never would have broke my crown! Let the record show that vinegar and brown paper are poor substitutes for triple antibiotic ointment and gauze...and that Val Thevictorian is a poor substitute for a writer."

Farrah Fawcett..."At the risk of people saying I'm no angel, let me pointedly declare that having my likeness plastered on 14-year-old boy's bedroom wall, and being subjected to countless indignities, is still much more pleasant than fake-reading this fake book."

Former President Ronald Reagan..."Val Thevictorian! TEAR. UP. THIS. BOOK!"

Guns 'N Roses..."Welcome to the jungle! A world where Val Thevictorian throws all writing rules out the window, and cuts a swath through a story like a bulldozer through the rain forest. Don't cry, sweet child o' mine. Have patience. For one day, we shall rid the literary world of Thevictorian, and we'll be in Paradise City."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hick's Presence Is Requested In Court

Hick went to court on Monday. It has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with him. Hick's a conundrum like that.

It all started about a month ago. We got a new neighbor behind us. Not like a neighbor you can chat with over the fence. Our house sits on 10 acres, with another 10 beside it, and this new neighbor has 10 acres down behind us, through the woods and across the creek. Somehow (!) Hick befriended the wife half of this couple. According to him, he was mowing the back yard and her car pulled into the driveway, so he drove up, and she said that Hick's buddy, Buddy, had suggested that she might want to meet him, since our land shares a common border.

Hick says that "Bev" is just like me. Crazy. A conspiracy theorist. "She's NUTS!" Of course, coming from Hick, that doesn't necessarily mean there's anything abnormal about the lady. Anyhoo...Bev said that the Crazy Dude who puts sticks in the middle of the road and threatens Hick with a knife and has had the sheriff called on him more times than you can shake a stick at for causing strife on the upper gravel road...has been threatening her. Allegedly.

Seems that, being a new landowner, Bev walked over to Crazy Dude's house to introduce herself. Their properties are right next to each other. Allegedly, Crazy Dude said, "I know you're a Jew. I hate Jews. I believe in Hitler's final resolution." Bev informed him that she is not Jewish (not that there's anything wrong with that), and she didn't know where he got that idea or why it should matter. Sensing that her introduction was not going well, she went back home. In the following days, Crazy Dude put up a swastika on the edge of his property, facing her property. He blasted "hate music" (couldn't get clarification on Hick as to exactly what kind of music this was, but only that Crazy Dude had done the same thing to the property owner across the road from him who had threatened to shoot Hick once upon a time). Crazy Dude also flew his drone over Bev's property on several occasions.

Bev called the sheriff, to say that she felt unsafe, and that this swastika seemed like a hate crime. The sheriff came to Crazy Dude's gate, and tooted his siren to show that he was there, and Crazy Dude tooted back with a siren. The sheriff walked up on Crazy Dude's property and asked if he was Crazy Dude, to which Crazy Dude said, "Who wants to know?" And the sheriff said, "The county sheriff," and Crazy Dude went in his house and would not answer the door. In the following days, Crazy Dude continued to fly his drone over Bev's property and blare his music.

Bev kept a journal of the encounters, and told the neighbors, to see if they have had problems with Crazy Dude. Several of the neighbors, including Hick, told Bev she needs a restraining order, since she feels harassed by Crazy Dude, and is afraid he might do her harm. She went to the courthouse and got a temporary order, but it's not good until the papers are served on Crazy Dude. The neighbors, including Hick, went to court Monday with Bev in an effort to provide supporting testimony (concerning Crazy Dude's threats during their road-blading encounters) so her restraining order can become permanent. Turns out the papers were NOT served on Crazy Dude (though Bev had been told they were), because Crazy Dude has a mean dog patrolling his property, and nobody wants to walk up and put them in the door.

So...everybody who went to court Monday wasted a day off work (except for the retired ones and Hick), and now they have to find a way to serve the papers on Crazy Dude before July 10. The excuse of the sheriff's department was that they can't force the guy to be home or come to the door when they show up. And Crazy Dude won't come to the door when he sees the police. Bev said she would pay a process server, and Hick said he knows one. (There is really no end to the skill set of Hick.)

More on this story as it develops. But here's a little tidbit (as opposed to an enormous tidbit) that I found particularly tasty.

Hick was sitting in his car on the parking lot of the courthouse annex on Monday, waiting for others to arrive. The judge hearing the hearing on Monday happened to walk by Hick's car. He looked in the car, and Hick said, "Hi [REDACTED]."

"Don't I know you?"

"Yeah. It's Hick."

"You're not going to be in my courtroom, are you?"

They know each other from way back, when Hick worked for the city, but before he ran over the old lady with the city truck. They went through firefighter training together.

Now here's where we disagree. Hick thought that exchange was perfectly acceptable, and was happy that the judge remembered him. I told him that it's really not a compliment. That the judge thought that Hick might have committed a crime, and was going to be tried in his court, in which case he would have to recuse himself.

The paper-serving saga continues...on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

It's Been An Interesting Week and a Half

I know you're growing tired of this theme, but I can't help it when the Universe comes calling. You know how, in the original movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer (that campy non-classic movie that most people hated, not the TV series that most people liked) when Kristy Swanson as Buffy told Donald Sutherland as Merrick that she didn't really WANT to be a slayer? "All I want to do is graduate from high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die."

Well...all I want to do is stay up late fiddling around on the internet, fall asleep in my OPC (Old People Chair), go to bed at 3:00 and get up at 9:00, go to town for a 44 oz Diet Coke and scratch-off tickets, win at least half my money back, eat a lunch derived from wise choices, take and evening walk with my dogs, and do it all over again the next day. That's not too much to ask, is it?

I don't set out to see subtle signs that my life is on the right track. That dear departed loved ones are letting me know they're around. In fact, if I look for such signs, they're not around. Like yesterday, when I did my errands, head down, seeking another found penny, and none were forthcoming. But let me bop around today, thinking about buying paper plates and bananas, and where to get my scratchers, and the next thing you know, I pull into a parking space at Save A Lot, decide it's too close to the other cars, pull through and take the first space I can fit into with T-Hoe's turning radius, open the door, and almost step on a PENNY as I get out of the car!

It's a little hard to see, but it's right in the middle of the picture. Pics or it didn't happen, Genius always says! Funny how something made me pull through that first space, park here, and even back up (because I'm one of THOSE people) to give myself more room to open my door in case a car parked next to me. Otherwise I wouldn't have seen it, being in the row across from that space, or T-Hoe sitting right on top of it.

Yeah. Today I found another one. To go with the four I found on Monday. And the three I found last week.

What I HAVEN'T told you is what happened on Sunday night. I was sitting on the short couch in the living room, listening to Hick talk about his trip to court (yes, I'm going to tell you about it, maybe tomorrow), but mainly waiting for the sun to go down so I could walk without being fried by that blazing orb. Hick was in the La-Z-Boy, switching channels between Flea Market Flip and Barnwood Builders.

I never watch Barnwood Builders, and the Flea Market Flip shows were reruns on CMT or some channel we don't usually watch. I had Shiba my laptop fired up, typing one of my blog posts. I wasn't really paying attention to Hick OR the TV. I don't like my routine disrupted by this extreme heat. But I can't walk in the evening sun.

So there I sat, Shiba on my lap, glancing up at the TV every now and then while gathering my thoughts. I'll be darned if I didn't look up and see LADYBUGS crawling all over a giant square-hewn log from a dismantled barn!

"Did you see it? Ladybugs!"

"Nah. Oh. There, I see them."

Yeah. Ladybugs and I kind of have a history.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Even Steven's Scales of Justice Might Need a Slight Re-Calibration

Try to keep up, people. This is not really one of those word problems from 7th grade math. Some figures are pertinent to the scenario, yet not used in calculations.

Yesterday, when Hick announced that he was on his way home from court (details another day) and that he was taking me to the casino...I rushed around getting my gambling accoutrements in order. In the bottom of the bag I took on Casinopalooza 2, I found an envelope. Inside was $88! Found money! I guess I had not stashed it with my gambling bankroll because it was not an even hundred. Anyhoo...I had 3 twenties, 3 fives, and 13 ones. I set aside the ones to use for my daily 44 oz Diet Cokes. I stashed the fives, because I'm always needing them to put in Genius's weekly letter as part of the six dollars I send him for Chinese food. And I put the twenties with five more twenties to give Hick for gambling purposes.

Let the record show that our casino money does not come out of Thevictorian household money. It is culled from winnings that Val has accumulated for nigh on 25 years, since her very first casino trip. Yes, Val is a good saver and a good rationer. And an even better lucky dog. Let the record further show that Val sometimes begrudges Hick the money to gamble with, because he always loses everything. Yesterday, I did not begrudge him a bankroll, because it was a surprise trip, and I was flush with cash. After all, I'd just found a bonus $88.

On the walk into the casino, though, Hick had to remind me to fork it over. "Where's my money?"

"Oh. Here. I forgot." I handed him the cash I had stashed in my shirt pocket for that purpose. "Here's $160. I don't know if I should give you that much if you're going to rush me. But there it is."

We went our separate ways, planning to meet for lunch in 45 minutes. When it was almost time, I got a call from Hick. A machine had eaten a twenty and not given him credits. He was waiting on an attendant. That took 20 or 30 minutes. I found him and played a game nearby while they took apart the machine and counted up money and found his twenty jammed in the money-eater with a corner folded back. They gave him back his moolah and apologized for his wait. No big deal to Hick. He doesn't get all bent out of shape at things like that. I'd have to be comatose to hold my tongue.

Anyhoo...we were both only down a few dollars at lunch. Afterwards, I lost a little trying to play Whales of Cash and Lightning Link. I'm not real familiar with those penny games, but I was switching up my quarter and dollar denominations for a change. I did okay on Buffalo Gold, but grew tired of waiting for it to bonus.

I found a machine I'd seen on YouTube slot videos. It's called 88 Fortunes. Here's a 3-minute video of how the game works. Anyhoo...there were five of these games in a carousel. I took one that had the money pot thingy at the top almost full. I sat down and put in my player's card (that I had rescued from being left over by Hick's malfunctioning game before lunch) and shoved in a twenty. I looked at the control panel thingy. Minimum bet was 88 cents, which is what I was going to play. I pushed my bright green old-phone-cord-style keyring stretchy thingy attached to my player's card out of the way, and THAT MACHINE SPUN AT MAX BET OF $8.88!!!

NOOOOO! That control panel was so sensitive that just the act of sliding my keyring stretchy thing off the area activated the MAX BET button! Crap! There went $8.88 down the drain! Almost half my twenty! It's a wonder I've managed to live this long, being so stupid and careless.

Anyhoo...after a few spins at 88 cents, I hit a bonus for $41. That was exciting. I though about leaving, but then I thought maybe it was hot machine. So I played some more. A man came up and started stalking me, sitting down at the machine to my left, acting like he was playing, but making slow spins. I'm pretty sure he was trying to take over my machine. Which made me stubborn, so I stayed. I played down my money, and hit another bonus for $27. Played that down and hit one for $21. Then, with that guy practically sitting on my lap, I cashed out and moved around the carousel to the machine to the right. Of course that guy jumped right over to my former machine and started feeding it.

But my new machine was paying, too! And it was getting those gong things that make a noise, just not enough for the bonus. I knew that guy could hear it. He was getting some kind of payoffs, because I heard his machine, too. Then he got up and came around to look at my new machine, and the one to the right. He huffed and left. But he came back in about five minutes and sat down to play my former machine again.

Meanwhile, I had put a couple of twenties in this new one, because it was giving me some money back, and I felt like it was going to hit a bonus. Then it gave me a line hit of $135 with a bunch of those ship thingies. That was great. I was pretty excited, but not for long, because it gave me four gongs, and a bunch of free spins, during the middle of which the lid on the money pot slammed closed, and I got a picking bonus, which gave me I think the mini bonus, which was a little over $25. Then it went back into the free spin bonus, and I ended up with $202 on that bonus. Let me tell you, I cashed that money out and headed for the ticket-cashing machine. Val is a gambler, but not THAT much of a gambler.

By the time I went to sit on the toilet to count my money, I determined that I had made back the day's losses, and had a little profit. I was $122 ahead. I went to find Hick to see if he was ready to go, but he was playing a new penny game, so I went to my old favorite, RedHot 7s ReSpin. I told him I was only playing ONE TWENTY in it, because I was going to leave with a profit. Something we rarely do at this casino.

When Hick came to find me, I was up to $60 on my twenty. So I cashed it out. Hick said he had one twenty left, and he wanted to play it in the RedHot 7s ReSpin. I magnanimously gave him my machine. Because it was hot. But not so much when Hick started touching it, because it ate his twenty in record time. I felt bad for him, because he said, "Well, that was the last of my money." So I gave him one of my twenties to play in the RedHot 7s machine to the left of that one. He lost that twenty, too.

We started toward the parking lot, and I said, "Oh, I have to cash in my ticket from that RedHot 7s machine." As I stepped toward the ticket-cashing machine, Hick stepped in front of me.

"Oh, you didn't cash it in yet? I've gotta cash my tickets, too."

Hick had two tickets that he put in the casher. And he got back $170 total! That is SO WRONG! I had given him $160 to play on, and I came away with $162 profit. Darn that Even Steven! Because he (and Hick) had led me to believe that Hick was destitute, so I had given him ANOTHER twenty. Yet Hick left with $170 of what had been MY MONEY in his pocket! I had given him a total of $180 for the day, and came away myself with $142 after donating to Hick's unneeded cause.

Hick treated himself to a stop at Goodwill on the way home, and bought himself a cordless drill for $15. I'm not sure it even works. He said he bought it for the charger that pops onto the bottom, because it fits his drill at home.

Yes, I am now (unintentionally) funding Hick's hoarder habit. And no, the fact that I found $88 of money I didn't know I had, and won my day's fortune on 88 Fortunes, was not lost on me.

Even Steven has a unique sense of humor. And he needs to re-calibrate his scales.

Monday, June 12, 2017

From the "You're Not EVEN Gonna Believe This One" Files, June 12, 2017

It is 6:30 and I just returned home from a surprise casino trip. Surprise, because even though Hick did a good deed by taking me, as late as 8:00 p.m. last night, he assured me that he was not going to spring such an opportunity on me. He did that last week, you know, as I was coming out of Walmart, unable to get back home by the time we would have left so he could make a doctor's appointment on the way.

Anyhoo...Hick had business in court this morning. That's a story for later, but he's not being locked up, if that was the first thing to cross your mind. I had planned to get up early (before 9:00, I'm on RPT [Retired People Time], you know) and color my hair (yes, Val is unnatural) and go to Walmart. I slept in (because I could) and Hick's call (he has the worst timing ever) got me out of the shower.

After making me listen to the minutia of the court procedure, Hick said he was on the way home. I asked what he was doing the rest of the day, because I was headed to Walmart, and didn't want any surprises. I specifically said, "You're not going to offer to take me to the casino, are you? Because I need to know now, since I'm heading to Walmart and then getting my big soda." (That's a 44 oz Diet Coke to you.) Hick's answer was: "I wouldn't necessarily rule that out." So I pinned him down to take me, and got my stuff together while he was on the way home. After I dried off and dressed, of course.

Here's where things get all wacky. On the way there, I endured more chatter about court. Then a call to Hick from somebody asking him how much a door costs these days. His cell (PHONE) number is one off from Lowe's. And we chatted about Tommy, and how much money I was going to give Hick for gambling, and how long we were staying, and what we'd have for lunch (big burger and fries, forget the two-for-one buffet coupon).

As we were nearing the casino, I said to Hick, "I wonder if I'll find any pennies today. I've been finding them all over in the last week." Hick declared that he finds them all the time on the parking lot at work. "They're pennies from heaven, you know. Somebody is trying to tell you something." Hick humored me. Because he knows which side his bread is buttered on, and who butters it.

I told Hick that he didn't have to drop me off at the door. "It's so hot today. I'll just use this as my walk. Even if it means I get all sweaty walking in. This will be my workout today." Hick pulled into a parking space at the opposite end of the complex from the casino. He always parks there. But normally he drops me off at the front door, by valet parking.

I opened my door to get out, and guessed it...a PENNY! "Look at that! I can't believe it. I was just talking about finding a penny. I wrote about it two days ago." I picked it up, and put it in my shirt pocket. I don't mix the found pennies with my regular change. Hick kind of snorted. But again, he humored me.

Right now I'm not going into the gambling specifics, but I'll just stay that Hick and I stopped for lunch at Burger Brothers at 12:40. After a delicious meal, we decided that we'd go our separate ways again, Hick going back to the non-smoking area, and me heading to the penny machines. I'm switching things up these days.

No sooner did I walk across the gaming area to the penny section on the right than I noticed my PLAYER'S CARD WAS NOT IN MY POCKET! Nor was it in my purse. My player's card was missing! Gotta have the player's card! I had $20 in free play today! That's nothing to sneeze at. Gotta accumulate free play credits.

The only place I could think of to find my player's card was back at the machine where I met Hick. Of course, the casino will issue you a new player's card, but attached to it was the green stretchy old-style-phone-cord kind of keyring that I had used at school for at least 15 years. In fact, when I RETIRED and turned in my work keys, I walked back into the principal's office and asked him for my keyring. It has sentimental value.

On my way back to the rear of the casino to the non-smoking area, to look for my card and keyring, as I turned the curve in the carpet in front of the cashier's windows, I saw a PENNY on the carpet! You can bet I stopped to pick it up. TWO PENNIES in one day, by cracky! Somebody really loves me!

I found my player's card laid out on the machine, and took it back. Slots slots slots blah blah blah story for later. Hick and I left the casino around 4:00. He decided to take the back roads to avoid sitting in rush hour traffic. As we got closer, I told him that when we got home, I was going to town for my soda. "We can do that on the way," he said. "It's only 9 miles down the highway from our short cut." So he saved me a trip back to town.

"I want to go to Orb K for my soda and some lottery. The gas station chicken store may not be on another roll since my last winner. I wonder if I'll find a penny there today. That would be freaky! I just found one in Orb K the other day. But I already found TWO today!"

Hick parked the car where in my usual spot at Orb K. But I was getting out of the passenger side this time. I opened up my door and could not believe what I saw in the middle of the empty parking spot next to us. "LOOK! Do you SEE that? It's a PENNY!" Hick did not see it, probably because my boobage was in the way of him looking out my door to the ground. But you can bet I picked that penny up and stashed it on the floor mat of A-Cad. Because I had the casino parking lot penny in my shirt pocket, and the cashier's carpet penny in my right pants pocket, and winnings change in my left pants pocket.

I went into Orb K and got my 44 oz Diet Coke. It's like a lesser babka compared to that magical elixir at the gas station chicken store, but it's not bad. I also bought my Golden Ticket scratcher ($60 winner, I found out later). I came back to the car. Because I go down the little ramp from the sidewalk rather than stepping off the curb, I walked around the back of A-Cad to get to the passenger side.

WHAT? Right there by the back left tire of A-Cad was another PENNY! I had not seen it there as I went in. Old Abe looked like he'd been in a fight, and lost. But it was my 4TH PENNY OF THE DAY, by cracky!

Seriously. What are the odds of that?

I know you're all cutting eyes at each other, twirling the crazy finger beside your temple, saying, "Uh huh. Our Val is surely daft." Okay. Maybe you're doing everything but the daft part. But blog buddy Sarah is probably saying that. Not that I know British slang. I didn't even know England is an island until a couple years ago. But still. I think finding FOUR PENNIES in one day, after specifically talking about pennies from heaven, and finding three last something more than mere coincidence.

Even Hick declared, after the fourth penny..."That IS a little unusual."

Today's four pennies, on the porch rail overlooking a yucca plant.

In order, left to right, the casino parking lot, the casino carpet in front of the cashier's area, going into Orb K, and coming out of Orb K.

No dates stand out for me as significant in my life. I can't even see the date on the last one. First is 2012, then 1971, then 1992, the the mutilated one.

Call me crazy. I'm finding a fortune, one cent at a time, but I'm richer in other ways.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Not-Sweets for the Not Sweet

It looks like Hick has been served up a dish of just desserts by Even Steven.

You may recall that Hick has been helping neighbor Tommy in his quest to get to town. Not that he expects to get anything out of it in return. Just because he's a people-person and a decent guy.

This past week, Hick stopped by Goodwill and almost had himself a bargain. Goodwill treasures are like scratch-off tickets. What you get is determined by pure luck and timing. Hick wandered around the store, and saw a lady sitting on a couch, holding a fishing reel in one hand, and her phone in the other. It was an old-style reel, perhaps from the 1950s, that he wanted for his Fishing Lair shack. To hear Hick tell it, he continued shopping, and happened across that lady on a couple of aisles. In my mind, I assume it was more of a stalking situation.

"Oh, I see you found a fishing reel. Are you going to get it?"

"It's marked $20. I think I'll take it."

Hick followed her some more encountered her a couple more times, and she still had that reel in her hand, so he gave up and left. I think this was on Monday or Tuesday evening. On Wednesday evening, I laid out Hick's weekly cash allowance, so he would find it on Thursday morning. I used to give it to him on Fridays, but now that his last day of the work week is Thursday, I make sure he has it then. You know, because people like to have a little cash in their pocket at the end of the work week, with a whole weekend four idle days laid out ahead of them.

Thursday evening, Hick came home all excited after stopping by a Goodwill store he frequents near his work town.

"You know those old school desks? I've had my eye on one up by work, but they had it marked $60. That's too much for me. Every time I go in there, I look to see if they still have it. And this evening, they had a sign that said everything was half price. They had a half price sale! I checked my desk, and it was only $30! So I got it. I'm going to put it in The Pony's Sword Shack for now."

"So it's a good thing I gave you your money early."

"Yeah. Or I couldn't have gotten it, and it would probably be gone if I went back."

Here's a picture of it.

AND...on Friday, Hick went back to the local Goodwill, and found the fishing reel that he wanted. It was on a shelf with some golf clubs, and still marked $20.

"I got my fishing reel. I guess that lady decided she didn't want it!"

"She probably only wanted it because you were following her around the store, and she didn't want to set it down and let you have it."

"Maybe. But I got it. For $20. I looked 'em up on eBay, and they're asking $120 at the cheapest. One just sold for $146, and another one is at $180."

So...Hick is getting rich off his junk. Not like he's ever going to sell it, of course. But it makes him happy. Just like he's making Tommy happy by giving him a ride to town so he can save $35 on a cab.

Life is a balance, don't you know...Even Steven keeps a ledger.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Is Honest Abe Trying To Tell Me Something?

Remember the other day when I found that penny in the road? The one that made me think of pennies from heaven? Okay, ALL the pennies I find make me think of pennies from heaven.

Anyhoo...I found that penny on my way home last Friday, after I'd stopped by my mom's grave to wish her a belated happy birthday. That's a picture of the same penny I posted earlier, only blurrier. A 2008. Nothing special for my family about that date.

Thursday, I stopped by Orb K to cash in more lottery winners (and of course trade them for new ones). As I was leaving, I found a penny on their dirty-penny-colored tile floor. Of course I picked it up. No picture, though. I left my phone in T-Hoe. So you'll have to believe me. None of that "Pics or it didn't happen" crap like Genius might tell me. Not The Pony, though. He's always pickin' up what I'm layin' down. He'd believe me without question. I put the new-found old penny (this one 1975) with the other one. It wasn't as shiny, but it was just as beat-up as the road Abe.

Friday, I cashed in my newest winners (what can I say, I'm pretty lucky with the scratchers) at Orb K again. No. I didn't find a penny there! What are you trying to do, suspend disbelief? What a freakin' coincidence THAT would have to be, to find a third penny within a week, and right in the same establishment where I'd found one the day before, AND heard one of Mom's special songs there the day before that.

I did look, though. As I left Orb K. I put my eyes to the ground and scoped out the tile and the sidewalk and the parking lot. But that place was as bare of pennies as Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard was of bones.

Val does not put all her eggs in one basket (The Pony used to, and he broke quite a few, swinging it around his head on the way from the chicken pen to the house) where her scratchers are concerned. So I took the cash this time, and headed over to Country Mart. They have two brand new machines that dispense tickets. And even I can figure out the technology needed to touch the screen and select my tickets.

When I pulled into Country Mart's parking lot, I saw that my usual parking space up by the building was taken. TAKEN! But with an actual car parked in it, not like a movie seat at the Paradise Twin with a coat thrown over the back by a gal with a face like a frying pan, big wall of hair.

Besides my first choice slot being occupied, my second choice space in the row behind it was not available, because there was a man painting HANDICAP spaces up by the building, and I would have run over him and/or his equipment to make the turn into that space. I swear, that store must be a stop on The Differently-Abled Grand Tour, because it has at least a dozen handicap spaces. And I hardly ever see anybody in there riding a beeper cart.

Anyhoo...I had to go on past my parking spots, over to the end of the building, where there's another row of 5 spaces, kind of indented due to the angles of the building. I parked there and walked back, past my rightful space, past three of the newly-stenciled bright blue HANDICAP logos and lettering. (I must say they turned out beautifully. I walked through them today, nobody being parked in any of them.)

When I came back out, I was NOT leafing through my new batch of tickets (one of which later turned out to be a $60 winner) to see which numbers they were on the roll. I had two bags (where I had stashed my tickets) and an 8-pack of Diet Coke in my hands. For that reason, I was more aware of my surroundings as I headed to T-Hoe's rear to stow my purchases. I walked back past the stenciler and the minivan that was in my favorite parking space. As I clicked my clicker to unlock T-Hoe and lift the hatch (always have your keys in hand when you leave the store, ladies!) my eyes caught a glint on the pavement.

It was another penny!

Again, I did not have my phone with me. But I bent over. Set down the Diet Coke. Picked up that penny. Thank goodness the minivan shielded the sight of my ample buttocks from the stenciler. I chuckled and said, "I don't believe this!" Because that's what crazy people do, right? When I got in the car, I put on my glasses and saw that this penny, too, was from 1975. It was plenty dirty, but not beat up.

That's three pennies in a week. I'm on a roll! At this rate, I'm going to be a millionaire pretty soon. Though after keeping my eyes to the ground today, I think I might become a cigarette-buttinaire first.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #63 "Fifty Grades of Shea"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week, Val dances with the devil and serves up a tale from the dark side. Do you have an appetite for just desserts? Can you stomach a dish best served cold? Are you ready to sink your teeth into Val's latest fake book? Fake-order yours today! The public is going to eat it up!

Fifty Grades of Shea

Headmaster Shea spent 50 years altering test scores, costing 50 rightful valedictorians their titles, scholarships, careers, and lives. Now those brainy, wronged graduates are getting even. No pitchforks and flaming torches for this multi-aged mob. Their revenge has been half a century in planning.

Pet food maven Mable Mablethorpe never married. Her dashed dreams of becoming a leading geneticist led her to the dog-breeding world. She built a pet-food dynasty with platonic friend Butch, a butcher who would have become a surgeon, and Shep, a veterinarian who would have become a doctor. Carnivore Chow supplies all the nutrients that meat-eating pets need, in varying consistencies, from peanut-butter smooth to chunky-crunchy for the behemoths.

Now the trio of spurned valedictorians are hosting a dinner in his honor. Will retired Headmaster Shea taste the horse tranquilizer in his tea? Will pets taste retired Headmaster Shea in their food? (146 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Principal Ed Rooney..."I'd rather have my left leg chewed off by the Bueller's Rottweiler while squeezing through their doggie door than ever fake-read a fake book by Thevictorian again." 

Will Hunting..."I might just be a janitor from Southie who works at MIT, but I'm pretty good with numbers, and I'd say this Thevictorian woman has a negative IQ. How do ya like THEM apples, Thevictorian?" 

Mr. Hand..."We don't take kindly to time-wasting here at Ridgemont High. I will never get back the portion of my life that I wasted while reading this fake book. I shall be showing up at Thevictorian's house this afternoon, to interrupt her orgy of 44 oz Diet Coke and gas station chicken, and even up the score."

Mr. Woodman..."I've seen better writing come out of Mr. Kotter's Sweathogs! This fake book is a real embarrassment."

Miss Fern..."I would give that little brat Rhoda Penmark a penmanship medal AND a writing award before I would give either to Thevictorian. And I daresay that if Claude Daigle was alive today, he would fling himself off the dock at the school picnic and drown, rather than read a single page of this fake book."

Mrs. Othmar..."WAH WAH WAH!" (Translation: That loser Charlie Brown could fake-write a better fake book that this! Even a beagle on top of a doghouse with a manual typewriter could do better! And a little yellow bird, whose only form of writing is a talon print!)

Mrs. Edna Krabbapel, in response to Mrs. Othmar..."You sing it, sister! I daresay Bart Simpson could outshine this Thevictorian woman as well. Even Ralph Wiggums could outdo her, and HE eats paste!" 

Ribs on the Grill at the Whistle Stop Cafe..."The plot of this story is beyond comprehension. WHO would ever think to serve up a human in PET food? This author gets a thumbs down from me. Oh, wait...I don't have any thumbs."

Hannibal Lecter..."I wonder how this pet food would taste with some fava beans and a nice Chianti...I think those Ribs on the Grill at the Whistle Stop Cafe are out of line, and need a swift kick. The plot is absolutely believable." 

Soylent Green..."Wait a mean to tell me that the PET FOOD IS PEOPLE? Or at least one person? What a twist! Like we couldn't see that coming from a century away."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tommy's Day Out

Here's a little update on the Tommy situation.

Tommy called our house over the weekend, to see if Hick could give him a ride to Walmart and the grocery store. Hick was carousing around Goodwill at the time, but I gave him the message. He called Tommy and made arrangements to take him on Sunday afternoon, making sure Tommy knows that Hick doesn't mind to take him, but it has to fit into Hick's schedule.

On the way, Hick stopped for gas at the local Casey's. Tommy went in with him, and bought a local paper and a St. Louis Post Dispatch, and a candy bar. They continued to Walmart, and Tommy decided that he could just get everything there, and they could drop the grocery store stop.

Hick said he waited out in the car while Tommy shopped, but that he was in there almost an hour, and Hick had to go to the bathroom, so he went inside, and waited up front on a bench for Tommy to come out. Tommy apologized for taking so long.

"I was looking for the work gloves. I couldn't find them until right at the end. I've been cutting a path through my trees, and I needed some gloves."

"Don't buy work gloves, Tommy. I have a bunch of work gloves that I brought home from work. I'll give you some. Don't spend your money on them."

[Let the record show that it's not like Hick is scamming leather work gloves and profiting from them on the black market. They're white cotton work gloves, like you might use for light gardening, which come in a bundle. Hick uses them while pulling nails out of old wooden pallets or shipping crates, and cleaning up fallen tree limbs, etc. While I would normally look askance at workplace theft, I figure all those 2:00 a.m. calls from the workplace alarm company, and the resulting trips 40 miles to work to meet with the police who responded to the alarm, kind of balance out Hick's sticky fingers. It's not like he gets paid by the hour or is compensated for such aggravation. He's earned a few pairs of cotton work gloves here and there over the past 23 years. And there are other personnel on the call list, who live closer, who don't pick up.]

"I don't know what to do with all those limbs I've been trimming. They're just in a pile for now."

"Don't worry about the brush. I'll bring my tractor over and get it."

"A man called and offered to cut my trees if he could keep the wood, in exchange for giving me a truck. But he said there was somebody else's name on the title, so I said no."

"That's a good thing, Tommy. You don't want to get messed up with a bad title."

"I would like to get a car sometime."

This is where I think maybe Hick was mistaken in the facts he told me previously. Seems like Tommy has had a driver's license before, and has driven when his mom had a vehicle, even though she never drove. He also said that one time he worked in fast food.

Hick says that sometime, he's going to go over and ask Tommy if he wants to ride to Goodwill. Whether to shop or just get out for a while, it doesn't matter.

Anyhoo...Hick asked Tommy if he ever saw my cat, Snuggles. Tommy said she used to come around, and then she didn't anymore. He also said that he'd been looking at old photo albums, and had a picture of him and his mom with the neighbor girls one Christmas, when they brought over some cookies.

Guess who's on the Chex Mix list now.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Somehow, Things Seem Connected

The time has come, the Valrus said
To talk of many things
Of writer's blocks, and evening walks
And blog posts that such brings
Of how a dream just might affect
Songs the radio sings

I got nothin', folks! No ideas. My standby topic is behaving himself, finding no great treasures, accidentally murdering no livestock, and not offering me impossible dreams. I'm on my own, and the page looks bleak. I'm killing time before the sun sets enough for my evening walk, and I got nothin'. So I'm treating you to some random amateur dream analysis.

Monday night (actually very early Tuesday morning) I had a detailed dream about being on a family vacation. My mom and dad were both in this dream. I rarely dream of them together. But it was a family vacation, at a theme park kind of like Silver Dollar City. Kind of folksy, not a lot of rides. It was mainly MY family. Not Hick. I don't recall the boys being there either. But my adult niece was. this dream, we were getting ready to leave and head home. It was a long drive. I needed to get back to my room to change clothes and pack. But nobody in this dream would tell me how to get to my room. [Let the record show that in real life, I am terrible about directions. I can't picture where things are in relation to other things. I got lost one time in a Dillard's store at Battlefield Mall in Springfield, Missouri, because it was arranged on a spiral or circular kind of floor plan, and had mirrors everywhere, and I kept walking laps around it until my friend found me...or I might still be there, a spinster, thin as a twig, but with great endurance.]

In this dream, I told dream Mom and dream Dad that I didn't want to make everybody late, and dream Dad kind of grunted in the way he had, a man of few words, and made it clear that I BETTER NOT make everyone late. Still, nobody told me how to get to my room.

I woke up remembering all the details. I knew what clothes I was wearing, the colors of the stripes on my tank top, the texture of the surface of the roof that I climbed on in my dream, looking for the way to my room. In this dream, there were two motel complexes, and nobody told me which one I was in. So I climbed a long ramp not meant for people, and stopped short of hoisting myself over a rough, sparkly, tan asphalt ledge to look for my room.

In my dream, I next went to the nicer of the new motels, after painfully hiking back down that ramp, my knees sore. I walked through several dining rooms full of people who seemed to be from a group of Amish or Mennonite people. They acted as if I was an intruder. I wound around through there to a dead end, trying to find my room, thinking how did I even get there, since I clearly don't drive on the highway. And that once I found my room and changed into my jeans, I would ask my niece to ride with me, and she would probably drive for me on the highway.

Then I woke up. The most disconcerting part was that I figured if I was supposed to be going on a trip with dream Mom and dream Dad...well...I know where THEY are now, and it's not someplace I'm in a hurry to go! Unless I'm headed further south, which would also not be a pleasant thought.

I was thinking about this dream on the way to town. You know how they are, so clear in your mind after you wake up. Thinking, thinking, rather than taking time to grab my dream book to look up stuff about it. Anyhoo...I was in one of those states where you just kind of drive automatically. I got out to the county lettered highway, going through the motions, with no memory of driving those three miles to get there.

I was still dwelling on this dream as I turned onto the parking lot of Orb K to cash in a winning scratch-off ticket. A song started up on the radio.

"Holes in the Floor of Heaven." By Steve Wariner.

Funny how I just blogged about it the other day. Of course I sat in the car and listened until it was over. I sent a text to The Pony to tell him it made me think of him. He was in class, learning about Renaissance church art.

Funny how I got myself in the car at the right time, with the radio on the right station to hear that song.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Magnanimous Mr. Hick

He's a chameleon, that Hick! A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, stuffed in an old pickle jar, rolled up in Grandma's handmade quilt, packed in a steamer trunk, and awaiting the highest bidder at the auction.

Monday I made a trip to Walmart. Hick knew I was going. He's off now on Mondays, you know. I have suggested that on one of them, we might make a trip to the closest casino. My treat, of course. I DO have a $15 food credit that will buy us each a delicious hamburger there. I had mentioned it on Saturday or Sunday, knowing that this Monday was not feasible, because Hick had a doctor's appointment in his workplace town at 1:30.

Anyhoo...Hick knew I was going to Walmart over in Bill-Paying Town, because I asked what treats he might want from there, them having some different snacks that our usual Walmart. He asked for some individual packs of lemon sandwich cookies. They're probably all the rage with diabetics these days, right after the clandestine Casey's donuts.

I left my phone in T-Hoe this time. Not intentionally. But it was just as well, because I don't take in my purse, and that phone in my pocket pulls my pants down when I walk. I probably need to get some new pants. Anyhoo...I came out of Walmart at 11:30 and saw that I'd missed a text from Hick.

"If you want to run to Casino this afternoon we can you just have to ride to Doctor with me"

Huh. That was SO not going to happen. Yes, the doctor was on the way to the casino. But I had no desire to sit around in a urologist's office, even with that casino carrot dangling at the end of the stick. Besides, it was 11:00 when Hick sent the text. He KNEW that I was in Bill-Paying Town. A trip which takes me 45 minutes minimum one way. AND he would need 45 minutes from home to get to his appointment on time. There was no way I was going to make it home and put away groceries and find my casino card and gambling money in time for him to leave for the doctor. Besides, I'd already spent money on my scratch-off tickets that I would have given HIM for casino purposes.

I guess it's the thought that counts. Even though I think he only offered to get credit for offering, knowing full well that I would have to say no.

Sometimes, Hick is like those Sour Patch Kids. First he's sour...then he's sweet.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Let's Hope Hick Never Takes Such Good Care of ME!

Way back in April, I posted a photo of our last batch of chicks that hatched shortly after Hick returned from his trip to Sweden. It was an afterthought to the story about HOS (Hick's Oldest Son) taking care of that hen while Hick was gone. (Let the record show that HOS had a $100 winner on one of his lottery tickets that I gave him as thanks.)'s the picture.

At the time, Hick thought we had six new chicks. Turns out there were actually nine, he just couldn't see them under the hen.

Hick takes really good care of his chicks. The feathered kind. He had them put up in the goat shed, with a board nailed up to keep other critters out. When they got a little bigger, he moved them to one of the old rabbit hutches, where he always keeps the chicks. We haven't had any for a while, because we're down to only a handful of chickens, due to the appetite of the neighbor dogs. Or maybe the appetite of my Sweet, Sweet Juno for eggs.

Anyhoo...yesterday he let the chicks out. They're about a third grown. Not as big as Hick hoped, after seeing the new neighbors behind us, whose chicks hatched later and are now bigger than ours. I told him that they wouldn't grow as big, penned up like that. So he decided that they're big enough to take out of the hutch.

One problem with previous chicks was that they'd get in the goat and mini pony's water bucket and drown. So Hick put a stick down in it, at an angle, so if a chick falls in, it can hopefully get on the stick and hop its way out of the pail.

Hick kept an eye on the chicks all day. The hen chases them away, he says, because she's sitting again. So they're pretty much left to their own devices. They scatter around, cheeping, pecking at the chicken feed the squirrels haven't finished from the night before, or a crust of bread that Hick tossed them at lunch time, and then run under the chicken house that none of the chickens really like to sleep in, preferring to roost in the tree limbs hanging over it.

Hick mowed the BARn field for a while. Then he worked on his Railroad Car Shed, painting parts of the outside. He mowed a little of the front yard. Mainly just puttered around, doing what he does best, fiddling with this and that, not finishing anything at one time. He kept a close eye on his chicks, in case the neighbor dogs showed up, or our very own Jack decided to sample them. Jack has not been raised around chicks, only the full size chickens. He chases them for sport, despite being chastised when he's seen, but has never bitten or killed one. At times, it even looks like he's herding them back to their chicken house area.

I was putting my shoes on for my evening walk yesterday evening when Hick came in the front door.

"You know my chicks I've been taking such good care of? Now there's only eight."

"Oh! Did the dogs get one? Did JACK get one? I know how he is. We might need to put the shock collar on him again, like when--"

"I ran over one with the lawnmower."


"It was quick."

"A white one or a black one?"

"A white one."

"You couldn't see a WHITE CHICK? They practically glow, they're so bright!"

"Actually, I didn't see it at all. Until later. When I came back from parking the lawnmower. I thought, 'What's that on the gravel?' And it was a chick. It was flat. Its guts were coming out its butt."

"Okay! Enough with the details! Which tire did you run over it with?"

"Like I said, I didn't know I did. Them dogs might have got it. And THEN I ran over it."

"Sure, put the blame somewhere else!"

"Yeah. I didn't see any teethmarks on it."

They hatched right after Hick got back from Sweden at the beginning of April. He's been fussing over them ever since. Now...I guess he can do 1/9 less fussing.

Let's hope Hick never takes such good care of ME!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

You Can't Make the Magic Happen

Last Wednesday was my mom's birthday. You might think I went to the cemetery to commemorate the day, but you'd be wrong. I stop by there a couple times a week, and I'd just been there two days before. I knew Mom would understand. After all, I DID give her a shout-out at midnight when her birthday rolled around. Uh huh. I was watching my computer clock like a reveler in Times Square on New Year's Eve watching the ball drop.

I stopped by the cemetery on Friday, on my way to mail the weekly letters to my college boys. Of course I was looking for signs. I've been spoiled by the random ladybugs that are not random at all, but come at a time when I really need some confirmation. And then there are the two songs (Holes in the Floor of Heaven, when we're talking about The Pony, and How Can I Help You Say Goodbye, when it's just me) that always seem to pop up on my car radio when I'm at the cemetery or thinking of Mom or discussing her with Hick.

On Friday, I didn't see any signs. You can't force these things, you know. But I'm ever-vigilant. Just in case. I've only flat-out asked to see a sign ONCE, and it happened within the hour. So I'm never doing that again. It doesn't seem right. It meant the world to me then, and I'm not going to make it into a party trick.

I wished Mom a happy belated birthday, and said of course she knew that I'd given her the shout-out on her actual birthday. I told her about my sister the ex-mayor's wife's cookout on Memorial Day, and what the boys are doing for the summer. Just the usual stuff I would have told her over the phone. Then I went on with my errands, keeping my ear tuned to the radio. Just in case. But there was nothing.

I'd forgotten about looking for signs by the time I left Walmart and headed home. Coming down the last hill before my turn, I saw some probably ne'er-do-wells parked by the creek at our gravel road. They saw ME, and the blue pickup truck started up and pulled out, headed for town. The white car also gunned to life, and followed.

Because they'd been sitting there at the side of the gravel road, facing out, I had stopped on the two-lane blacktop county road, so they'd have room if they decided to leave. I park on the blacktop to get the mail as I come home, but I'm usually closer to the row of mailboxes. I guess these ne'er-do-wells were as unhappy to see me stop there to stare at them as I was to see their not-living-here vehicles parked on our road.

As their engines roared up over the hill behind me, I stepped out of T-Hoe to check my mailbox. Huh. What was THAT? Something shiny at my foot.

Think what you will, but I consider it to be a penny from heaven. A sign that everything's going as it should. Mom heard me, and things are okay.

I would have taken the picture right where it lay, sparkling on that dark blacktop, but I WAS parked in the travel lane of that road with no shoulder. So I picked it up, and took a picture on the back porch when I got home. I don't know any significance for that 2008 date concerning my life or Mom's. Or why old Abe looks like he's been through the ringer. But it's sign for me, by cracky! A random penny on a blacktop road, not in front of the mailbox, but about 20 feet up the road, where I normally would not have seen it.

I added it to the other 4 random pennies and two dimes and one quarter and two one-dollar bills that I've found over the last six months. I haven't seen such a windfall since the months right after my dad died in 1998, when we found dimes all over the house.